Ask Lindsay Moir:
Friday, February 22, 2008
Question & Answer:
Many of you will already know of my interest in “Grandparent Groups” and how they can provide a powerful resource to families of exceptional children. I have attended one such group several times at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix Arizona www.autismcenter.
Inspired by this group, I am working with Autism Ontario’s London Chapter to begin such a group here. If we are successful, it could serve as a model to educate and utilize grandparents across the province, for any exceptionality. I will give you time-to-time updates on our progress.
Last summer I was invited to do a workshop at Keswick, Ontario for the CANGRANDS group. Before, during and after my presentation I had the opportunity to interact with these incredible people. To learn more about CANGRANDS visit their website (www.cangrands.
Did you know that more than 55,000 Ontario children, many with special needs’ are being raised by kinship “parents” — usually a grandma living on a pension. Their own children are often unable to care for these young kids due to alcohol, drugs or mental health issues, and the grandparents step in to look after them, with minimal government support.
Last night, the TV program W5 ran an excellent show called “Parents Again” which outlined the plight of these grandparents … and their joy and committment to their grandchildren. You can see this program in its entireity by clicking on “Parents Again” Part 1 & 2 at www.ctv.ca/W5 . The show really captures the angst and stress of raising exceptional children … with the added twist that the parenting is being done by seniors.
I realy think that this video should be required viewing for all of us involved in the special education field, as well as every Community College student in the Human Services Division… maybe even our MPPs?
On a positive note, the Ontario government has recently changed the laws and grandparents can be eligible for more support, on a more consistent basis. The Minister has now promised that they will not have to relinquish custody of their grandchild in order to became eligible for a funding review — still a few wrinkles to be ironed out? … but progress none the less!
I have become increasingly aware of how many grandparents attend my workshops across the province, either to support the Mom or Dad by attending with them, or because they are actively involved in the raising of an exceptional grandchild. I sense they are seeking a role, and have the time, life experience and distance from the day-to-day challenges of raising a special needs child, to become a key piece of the puzzle.
Attention educators, community professionals, legislators — THE GRANDPARENTS ARE COMING!! THE GRANDPARENTS ARE COMING!! — and they are a force to be reckoned with!
Lindsay Moir retired from the Ministry of Education in 1997 and has been assisting agencies, associations and parents in obtaining appropriate special education services for exceptional pupils.
Family Net welcomes your questions about special education in Ontario.
E-mail Lindsay at ask.questions@